July 22 will see demolition work begin at a former pig farm at Lety in South Bohemia that was the site of a concentration camp for Romanies during World War II.
The cost of the demolition should not exceed CZK 110 million and is being financed by the Czech Culture Ministry. Visitors will be given one last opportunity to tour the grounds of the former industrial pig farm in the presence of activists.
History: The industrial pig farm was built during the 1970s
The industrial pig farm, which was in operation from the 1970s until the spring of 2018, is located on the site of what initially was a disciplinary labor camp and later an internment camp.
As of August 1942, the facility at Lety u Písku (just like its counterpart in Hodonín u Kunštátu) became what was called a “Gypsy Camp” where, unlike the two previous types of facilities located there, entire families of Romani people were imprisoned in inhumane conditions – and it thereby became a concentration camp.
What was called the “Gypsy Camp I – Lety” saw 1,309 persons pass through it, of whom at least 326 died there.
Most of those who died at Lety were children. In 1943, immediately after the remaining children, men and women there were forcibly sent en masse to their all but certain deaths in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration Camp, the buildings of “Gypsy Camp I” were all razed to the ground and set on fire.
In 1995, near the mass burial ground for some of the victims who died in the Lety camp (located approximately 300 meters from the camp itself), a memorial was installed; the site became a Cultural Heritage Monument in 1998 and was then upgraded in 2012 by its then-administrator, the Lidice Memorial – an amphitheater was installed along with replicas of the prisoners’ quarters, a parking lot, and a trail with explanatory signage about the history of the site.
Since 2018, the administrator of the Lety Cultural Heritage Monument has been the Museum of Romani Culture.
The Lety u Písku Memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti in Bohemia
The Czech Government approved the buyout of the industrial pig farm for CZK 372,500,000 [EUR 15,000,000] exclusive of VAT in 2018. The Museum of Romani Culture was then entrusted by its establisher, the Czech Culture Ministry, with the task of demolishing the farm and building the new Lety u Písku Memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti in Bohemia in its place.
The new memorial will be a dignified place for honoring the memories of the victims of the camp, and its aim is also to remind visitors of the tragic facts associated with the existence of the camp in the first place.